Hallmark meets Heart of Dixie—This southern contemporary romance is a perfect small town read
Just a city girl, living in a lonely world
Displaced Steel Magnolia Norah Burke doesn’t know the meaning of failure. But when she threatens to blow the whistle on some shady business practices at her Chicago marketing firm, she gets fired fast as all get out. Licking her wounds, she heads back below the Mason-Dixon for a little home-grown Southern comfort.
Just a small town boy
With his iron-clad Mississippi roots, Councilman Cam Crawford is a man who values tradition, preservation, and the love of a good dog. When a big box warehouse store tries to capitalize on his hometown’s economic downturn, it seriously burns his biscuit. He’s not about to let anyone’s ambition destroy what he holds dear.
A David vs. Goliath story with a side of grits.
This unlikely pair just might be the perfect allies–in war and out. But as the battle to stop GrandGoods heats up and sparks of attraction turn to something more, will Norah’s bigger-picture perspective go with Cam’s “keep it as it is” attitude? Are they meant to be like biscuits and gravy? Or are they just as wrong as un-sweet tea?
Targeted Age Group:: adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
To Get Me To You is the first book in my Wishful Romance series. As a Mississippi girl born and raised, all my life I've heard the lousy things people not from here (and mostly who have never been here) have to say about us. The media is going to find the least-educated, narrow-minded yahoos to throw on the news, and that's what people think we are. Newsflash: We are more than a carefully edited soundbyte designed to make us look ignorant and intolerant. So when I started the series, I set out to highlight everything that I love about living in the small town South–all our quirks, foibles, and dreams provide a fabulous (and often funny) backdrop to contemporary romances about stubborn, independent women and the men who love them.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I've always been a fan of the family you make, and I loved the idea of a powerhouse heroine being adopted into a big, nosy Southern family. That's where the Campbells came from. They're everything I love about sprawling, fictional families. And Norah–my heroine–she just kind of showed up in my brain and started giving orders!
The pretty, older bartender flashed a welcoming smile. “What’ll it be ladies?”
Piper slapped the bar. “Adele, we’re here for the Three Furies. Norah here has been wronged by an idiot man.”
More than one.
“Is there any other kind?” Adele asked.
Norah exercised more caution than Piper. “And what exactly does the Three Furies entail?”
“It’s a tradition of long standing, dating back to just after college when He Who Is Not Worth Naming walked out of my life,” Tyler explained. “First shot is tequila because you’re drinking to forget a worm. Second shot is whiskey, in honor of the fire in your belly. Third shot is Jaeger, which will kick all asses. And after each, you get a shot at Bob the Bastard.”
“Bob the Bastard?”
Adele lifted a sad burlap…thing from behind the counter. It had a crude face embroidered on and four rough limbs flung out akimbo. A fifth…protuberance was painted in red between the legs.
“Is that…a voodoo doll?”
“Sort of. We mount him on the dartboard and take shots at his nuts. It’s terribly cathartic. I think this is actually Bob the Sixth. The Three Furies is a popular ritual.” Tyler patted Bob on the head.
“It’s one that has stood us in good stead, and as you are now officially a part of the Sisterhood, it is your duty to participate,” Piper said.
Norah wondered what sisterhood that was, exactly. “Oh, well I don’t do shots. I’m more a sedate glass of wine or the occasional glass of Scotch kind of girl. And, really, I’m over it. Not even on the rebound.” Why should she waste time thinking about Pierce when she was already half crazy for a better man she wouldn’t let herself have?
Piper gave her a baleful glance. “Are you seriously not going to cooperate?” The idea of throwing darts at Pierce’s junk in effigy was pretty appealing. All this mess had started with him. “Well, if it’s that important to you.”
Adele set out a salted shot glass and poured the tequila while Tyler affixed Bob to one of the dart boards on the wall. A cheer went up around the bar.
“Okay Norah, you have to name him,” Tyler called.
“Here hangs the bastard Pierce Vargas, Asshole of the First Degree,” Tyler intoned. “Administering his sentence is Norah Burke, the Supremely Wronged Party. Norah, you may begin when ready.”
When in Rome. Norah took the shot, wincing at the burn as she bit the lime. God, tequila was nasty. Piper offered up the first dart and she took her position behind the line. After clearing the pucker from her face, Norah zeroed in on the doll less than eight feet away.
“Feel free to list his crimes.”
“For being a lying douchenozzle.”
Bringing Pierce’s smug, supercilious face to mind, she let the dart fly. It embedded in one of the arms. The crowd cheered.
“Not bad.” Piper nodded in approval. “Extra points for using ‘douchenozzle’ correctly in a sentence. That counts as first blood. Bet you can do better, though. Adele, bring on the Jack!”
“Shouldn’t I eat something first?” Norah tried to remember if she’d had lunch.
“We’ll order after you’re done. Don’t want to lose your momentum.”
If only my Chicago colleagues could see me now. She accepted the second glass. All those pretentious, self-absorbed professionals would consider this behavior completely unseemly. The idea made her grin as she took the second shot. The whiskey went down easier, smoothing some of the edges she hadn’t realized she’d been carrying around. Maybe they were on to something with this whole thing.
The dart Piper handed her felt warm in her palm.
“For not appreciating that I was the best thing to ever happen to you.”
You were supposed to exhale when throwing, right? Or maybe that was just archery. She couldn’t remember, but it seemed like a good idea, so when Norah stepped up to the line, she took a series of deep breaths as she aimed. On a last gust, she released with a snap. It hit a mere half inch below the desired target, to the collective groans of the audience.
“That’s okay, honey. You’ve still got one more to go,” Piper said.
Norah returned to the bar for the Jaeger.
“Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!” Turning, she saw Tucker crossing the bar, Cam, Mitch, and Liam Montgomery right behind.
Cam. Of course, he was here. Because it wasn’t enough that she should see him every day in a work capacity, and almost as often through all her Campbell family interactions. She really needed the Universe to mock her further by throwing him in her path some more with a Nana nana boo boo, look what you gave up for good measure.
God, he looked good. He also looked just a little bit pissed off. She wondered if Tucker and company had dragged him out of his cave like she’d been dragged out of hers.
“Who’s the poor bastard being skewered?” Tucker inquired.
By way of answer, Norah lifted the shot of Jaeger in a toast before tossing it back with a prayer that it would strengthen her resolve. Her cheeks felt flushed as she slapped the glass down on the bar and returned to position for her final shot.
“For my career, you unscrupulous, exploitive son of a bitch.” Norah flung the dart, wishing it was something more substantial, like a knife, as it zoomed forward and buried itself in the doll’s painted scrotum.
The crowd—the females anyway—burst into cheers and applause. Norah took an exaggerated bow and regretted it as the room took a bit of a dip along with it. Food. Food was an immediate priority. And water. Like, a gallon of it. She managed to straighten without lurching.
Mitch swaggered over. “Is this an All-Men-Suck hen party, or can we join you?”
“Better check Norah for sharp, pointy objects,” Cam said. “Clearly she’s dangerous with them.”
Norah assumed a superior air. “He deserved it.”
Piper was grinning like a loon, her arm already looped through Liam’s, so evidently this was to be a mixed party. Hooray, a new challenge to resist Cam, this time with diminished capacity. Norah knew after the lengths they’d gone to getting her here, neither woman was going to just let her go on home, so she didn’t voice the protest.
They commandeered a booth in the corner and put in orders for appetizers. Even as the others broke into a babble of joking conversation, Norah could feel Cam’s eyes on her.
“Are you okay?” He had to lean in close to be heard over the music, and Norah shivered at the feel of his breath on her ear.
“Not even close.” She tossed back a glass of water as if it were another shot.
“Talked to my dad.”
Cam winced. “As bad as you expected?”
“Worse.” She wished he’d rub her nape, banish some of the tension. But he didn’t touch her. Because they didn’t do that anymore. She wasn’t his to take care of.
Norah jerked her shoulders. “Over now.” Flashing a smile that was probably more of a snarl, she asked, “And how was your day?”
“Could’ve been better. The economic impact report will be in tomorrow. The Council is convening tomorrow afternoon to go over it and vote.”
The shots turned to acid in her stomach. “So soon? I thought we weren’t expecting it for another month?”
“So did I. Apparently when they said they’d fast-track it, they really meant it.”
Had she done enough? She’d expected to have another month to shift public opinion, get the other Council members on their side. There had barely been time to get the Shop Local campaign off the ground, let alone finish with all the public education components of her plan. At this point, all their hopes were pinned on the results of that study.
“I’m sure it’ll be fine.” She knew the power of optimism. “All our research suggests that the economic impact would be overwhelmingly negative. Any firm worth its salt is going to find the same.”
“I hope you’re right. Either way, tomorrow is D-Day.”
It was a sobering thought. Another sign from the Universe that her time here was winding up. Her mind automatically shifted to the action plan for the coalition, wondering how she should alter the timeline to see that the Shop Local campaign was truly sustainable on its own. Because an end to the anti-GrandGoods campaign meant an end to her time in Wishful. And an end to her time with Cam. She told herself it would be easier away from him, back in the real world, where everyone had expectations and the standard operating procedure was looking out for number one.
And when had she become a woman who looked for easy?
“You two look entirely too serious. I know just the way to turn that frown upside down.” Tucker grabbed her hand. “Come on, sugar.”
“No, no, no, nono. I don’t—oh Jesus.” Abruptly, she found herself spun in some complicated sequence as an Alan Jackson song rocked out from the juke box.
Tyler waved after them. “Don’t worry. Tucker makes everybody look good!”
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